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Q&A Tuesday: How do you find time to read?

Becky from Our Peaceful Home asked on my book review post last month:

Crystal, I am intrigued about how you manage to read so many books and still do all you do with your blog, homeschooling, etc. Do you have any tips on finding time to fit in all the reading that you do? — Becky

Great question! I learn so much through reading: it challenges me, inspires me and educates me. I wouldn’t be the person I am today were it not for the myriad of meaningful and challenging books I’ve read over the past 29 years of my life.

I especially enjoy reading “non-fluff” books. There’s nothing wrong with reading for entertainment, but if you want to improve yourself as a person, I highly encourage you to choose books that will help you get closer to your goals and shape the way you think and live your life.

Here are some ways I’ve found to find time to read:

1. Make Reading a Priority

In most every case, you can make time for what you truly want to have time for. I read this quote in Honey for a Child’s Heart yesterday and thought it was so good:

“A busy schedule is the enemy of reading. Agreeing in principle with all the benefits of books, you may at this point simply sigh and say, ‘I wish we had more time for reading.’ But the fact remains that we arrange time for what we think is truly important.”

2. Always Have a Book Handy

I keep a few books I’m working on reading through different parts of the house. That way, if I have a few minutes of extra time, I have a book handy to pick up and read.

When I’m headed out the door for an appointment, when I’ll be riding in the passenger seat instead of driving or when I’m going anywhere that there’s a potential I might have some “dead” time, I bring a book along. Sometimes, I don’t even get to crack it open. Other times, I end up having unexpected waiting time and finish the entire book!

3. Read First Thing in the Morning

In the past six months, I’ve made reading a higher priority in my life as I feel like reading good books is one of best ways I can improve as a writer and blogger. One way I’ve carved out more time for reading is by doing it first thing in the morning.

On a usual morning, I get up early, take my shower and get dressed and then I spend 20 minutes in Bible reading and prayer. As soon as I’m finished with that, instead of opening up my laptop, I set the timer for ten minutes and read from whatever book I’m currently reading through.

I can usually read at least a chapter in that 10 minutes and I’ve found it’s a great way to start my day off. Plus, if the day ends up being very full and there’s no extra time for reading at any other time of the day, at least I’ve read one chapter of a book!

4. Turn Off the TV

I know this might not be a popular opinion, but I think you’ll get a lot more out of a good book than you ever will out of the majority of television programs. If you usually spend 30 minutes watching television every day, challenge yourself to devote half of that time to reading instead.

Since I watch very little television (most weeks go by without me watching any), that may be one of the reasons I have more time to read than many people. I’d choose a good book over television any day!

5. Turn Off the Computer

There are so many amazing blogs and sites and articles to read online, but sometimes it can become noisy overload. I prefer to just follow a few blogs and read books instead. I seem to focus better and get more out of books I can hold in my hand rather than reading articles on a computer screen.

6. Listen to Audiobooks

There are many of you who don’t have the luxury of a fairly relaxed schedule like me. You work full-time, you have a gaggle of children and your days are packed from sun-up to sundown and beyond. If snatching a few minutes of reading time seems beyond comprehension, consider audiobooks instead.

You can listen in the car, while you’re folding laundry, while you’re exercising… any time your hands are busy but your mind is free. I’ve only just begun listening to audiobooks at the encouragement of my husband and I’ve truly enjoyed this extra way to fit in more “reading”.

7. Read Aloud to Your Children

If you have children, reading aloud to them is one of the greatest ways to get reading in. Sure, you don’t necessarily read aloud books to them that you’d have on your personal book list, but it’s still so enjoyable to all share a book together.

We typically read aloud for 30 minutes to an hour every week day and it’s truly one of our favorite parts of each day. The girls almost always beg for “another chapter” when I’m finished — and I usually oblige because I’m enjoying the book so much myself!

How do you find time to read (if you do!)? I’d love to hear your ideas!

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  • I work full-time, and I am one of those people who is busy from sun-up to sun-down (not by choice). My dream is to stay home. However, I love reading and have made it a priority.

    At work, I eat my lunch at my desk while working, then I devote my whole lunch break for reading.

    I also try to read before bed and some on the weekends. I only average about 2 books/month, but I’m thankful for that right now in my life situation.

    I agree that you make time for what is important to you. I don’t do any extra activities besides church, because being home when I’m not working is a high priority for me.

  • amber says:

    I do lots of my reading while the kids are outside playing. I sit in a chair near them while they play. Also when they are getting a bath at night. I sit in the bathroom and read while they play. Since most of my books I only pay 25-50 cents for at yard sales, it is a good cheap entertainment.

  • Veronica says:

    My youngest has graduated homeschooling now, but up until then we read aloud – even through high school. We read all sorts of things, and Shakespeare’s plays are so much more fun read aloud! When the children were young, I read during naps or quiet time. Once they were old enough to read, I used to call it book time, and everyone had to put down what they were doing, and read. It was good for them, but good for me, too, since I had to set a good example and read also. I still read quite a variety of fiction and non-fiction. I also recommend dailylit – they email a small part of the book daily, which is great for the huge novels you mean to read, but never get to.

  • Emilie says:

    For those of you looking for a series to read to your children: my two older boys (10 and 8) loved the “39 Clues” books. I read them aloud to them at bedtime. They are history based, but also adventure. There is a boy and girl who are solving a mystery. We read the first 4 and then I think they were ready for something different. We will get back to them but for now have moved on to Harry Potter. We just finished book 3 of Harry Potter. My boys are begging me to read to them! I love it!!!!!

    We curl up and I read three short childrens books to my 4 year old first as he usually falls asleep while I read to the older too. He can not sleep without at least one book. He loves any by Sandra Boynton!

    I too love to hear, “just 5 more minutes” or the best I heard the other night after much pleading with me to continue to read was, “how about just 2 more sentences, please mommy!”

    I need to log off and start turning pages! I need to get back to reading. Why did I stop for the computer? I need to get my priorities back in line! thanks for reminding me!!!! I am thinking about setting up a reading spot in my yard for over the summer. Comfy chair, table for a glass of water…hmmmm the posibilities.

  • Mona says:

    If I closed my lap top I would have so much more time for everything! I’ve been trying hard to just stick to a few blogs that I like and save the others for when I have a few spare minutes. It does help that my lap top is fritzy and overheats and shuts down randomly. 🙂 Then I have to let it sit for a while…longer now that the days are hotter. I used to read a ton and since I’ve had kids, I haven’t. I have lots of books to read, but haven’t made it a priority. I need to work on that too….

  • Marguerite says:

    I read first thing in the morning while having my coffee. I am lucky enough to have 15 minutes or so when no one else is up. I also read at night. I check the weather, pick out clothes for the next day, then I shut off the TV and read for 30 minutes to and hour or so. It is a great way to start and end my day.

  • Elizabeth Sue says:

    My husband is in Graduate school, works full time, and has an internship on the side as well and he finds time to “read” by listening to audiobooks on his commute to and from work. This week he started “48 days to the work you love”

  • Annie says:

    I have found that I can easily read non fiction books in small bites despite lots of distractions and interruptions, but I get cranky if I’m reading fiction (I like classic literature) with lots of interruptions.
    When my first 5-6 kids (I have nine kids) were little, I could read while nursing during certain times of the day with minimal distractions while the older children played. My husband is very extroverted and social, so if I read in his presence, I read aloud and he enjoys it. Now that my children are all older, (youngest is 5) I find that my distractions and interruptions are much more frequent or require more attention, time and patience because their needs are not as simple. Keeping the TV off and constantly adapting my reading habits to my family needs, and reading aloud for everyone’s pleasure have been key for me to find time to read.

  • Amanda says:

    I LOVE to read and normally have several books going at once. I compiled a list of top 100 books to read from numerous websites. It is now 200+ books long. But its opening up to types of books I wouldn’t normally read. I also have my don’t have to think books where I can just read and let go of my daily worries. I try to read some books that will help improve my life as well. I know you keep a list of what you are reading this year, do you have any recommendations of books that you’ve read in the past.

  • Nicole says:

    I finally added a few books I’d been dying to read (or re-read) to the curriculum of the high school English classes I teach. The kids and I all read Great Expectations and The Jungle. Two birds, one stone: lesson planning and reading what I want. Essentially, though, I had to give myself homework to find the time to read.

    I’ve pretty much given up on reading “grown-up” books throughout the school year and I know I’ll never come close to finishing my summer reading list. So, I read YA lit with my biological children and my school children that interests me instead. I ended the year with The BFG (with my 5 year old), Chasing Lincoln’s Killer and Chains. They were all really good and I got my reading fix until I get a moment to read Three Cups of Tea, In Defense of Food and Water for Elephants (finally!).

  • sona says:

    My bookreading story is about my SIL. We had only met him once before and had come to visit for a short time and while there we decided to go into town and see what there was to see. He lagged along behind us, walking with his face in a book the whole visit! hmmmmm wonder if that is a statement about us or him! :o)

  • Lea says:

    When my boys were little we always had “DEAR” time Drop Everything And Read… This not only showed them that mom and dad like to read and felt it was important, but it gave us a family quiet time leading into family Bible Study int he evening. The wee ones were either read to or given hard back books to “read” during that time… it also taught them to be quiet during small blocks of time… I am happy that all my children ( 4 grown men now) love to read and my husband and I as empty nesters continue the practice …sometimes we choose a book we are both interested in and read aloud to each other… makes a great bonding time and much conversation.

  • Cassie says:

    Ok so where do you get your ideas as to what books to read? I’m sad to admit I’m one of those moms who hasn’t picked up a book, besides the ones I read my kids!, in years! Right now my older 3, DH and I are reading Harry Potter year 1 together. But I’m feeling the urge to keep my mind working. Love the audio book idea as we are in the car quite a bit, but other than that I need help!

  • Jenna says:

    On a side note, I saw that big pile of books and was wondering where you buy your books. It’s so expensive to buy retail and my library doesn’t have a lot of the self-help books. Just wondering. Thanks for the post.

    • Amanda says:

      Watch the papers for book sales. Where I live there are 2 major book sales a year for non profit organizations and sometimes the libraries have book sales. With the non profit book sales, I can usually walk away with at least 20-30 books for me and 10 for my daughter for around $20 or less.

  • Nisrine says:

    With a baby, I found that the best way to get my reading done is reading while nursing. As she gets older and nurses less, I find it best to read while I’m laying down or sitting next to her while she plays with her toys.

  • Erin Schell says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. I just have a quick question. Where do you find free or inexpensive books for the kindle. Thanks for any insight. Erin

  • Guest says:

    I use pretty much all of the same tips you provided except the best time for me is at night after the kids go to bed. Rather than watch TV, surf the web, etc., I use that time to read.

    A HUGE help for me has been having a Kindle. I carry it in my purse at all times so i can read if I’m stuck in traffic or sitting at the dr office, etc. It’s also been great because I get so many free books and with the wireless, I get them instantly!

  • Natalie says:

    It sounds weird, but in the bathroom! It’s easier to just stay in there and, even just sitting on the lid when you don’t need to utilize the facilities, escaping from the craziness for a few minutes with a book.

  • anon says:

    I read late at night, sometimes till 3 AM. (I have to get up at 6) I like to write, too. I agree that we tend to find time for the things we think are really important.

  • Chanda says:

    I’m guessing someone probably already mentioned this, but I didn’t read through all of the comments. When my son was nursing I kept a book (or stack of books) right next to the nursing chair, then I could pick one up every time we sat down to nurse. I read so many good books during those 16 months!!

  • Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing Crystal!

  • Paige P says:

    Don’t know if this has been mentioned or not, but I’m a homeschooling mom, as well. We read at different points during the day, but one of my children’s favorites times to read is at lunchtime!!!! They eat, and I read to them. No fussing, no crazy conversation; it’s a nice, quiet, peaceful meal time. They absolutely LOVE lunchtime read-alouds (and that book is different from read-alouds that we do other times of the day). I typically then eat after they do.

    • Crystal says:

      My mom always did that when we were growing up. I’ve been working on implementing it at our house, too, since I loved it growing up!

  • Becky says:

    I get up early every morning to do a quite time for 20-25 minutes, then I read a fun book everyday while working out on my elliptical (it is amazing how many books I read since I started reading instead of watching the news!). I also find that I fall asleep much better if I have read for 15-30+ minutes before I go to bed.

  • Heather says:

    I read. A lot. So I get asked this question by other moms. My first thought is always, “How do you NOT find time to read?” A life without books sounds as inviting as a straight jacket to me.

  • Grace says:

    i work 10-20 hours per week from home. I read between phone calls. Granted its broken up mostly, but on top of being able to read, Im getting paid for it 🙂

  • Lori says:

    I read while I workout…Really! I put my treadmill on the incline all the way (10% is as high as mine will go) and then walk at about 3.5-3.8 mph. This burns MORE calories as walking the same amount of time with no incline at a faster speed! It is great because I don’t feel “guilty” reading and it makes the exercise time pass that much quicker!

  • KimH says:

    I’ve probably read thousands of books over my life and I’ve enjoyed all sorts. For the last 15 or so years I’ve enjoyed books that help guide me in my life or teach me something Im interested in… however, every once in a while I just need some good mindless garbage.. like a historical romance.. It doesnt have to be quality anything.. but even then, I still enjoy the history spread throughout them… Thats how I learned I love history.. 😉
    Im a busy bee.. I work outside my home full time, coupon, involved in several groups, garden, hobby photography and a dozen other hobbies, so I take about an hour a day to read by taking a book with me to soak in the tub infused with lavender essential oil for 20-30 minutes every night.. at least 360 days a year, without fail. Then I head to bed and read another 20-40 minutes.. Sometimes longer, but usually I try to stay within my time limits I have set.
    I too dont watch tv.. its the rare day I do but I am on the computer at least 1-2 hours a day so I guess it all evens out timewise..

    Every once in a while on the weekend, I’ll just stay in bed on a Saturday and pick up where I left off the night before.. That doesnt happen often either but it sure is enjoyable.

    • Crystal says:

      Love the tub and lavender essential oil idea! Sounds so relaxing!

      • KimH says:

        I raised 5 children (2 of mine, 3 of his) and our house was the teen hang out too all while I was working outside the home & then coming home to cook, clean, & all the rest… The lavender tub was my introduction to learning how to truly do something necessary, loving, and kind for myself.. 😀 Kiddies are all grown now & most have flown the coop.. but the tub ritual continues on.. ♥

  • Darleen says:

    I did not read all the comments, but one of our favorite time to read is while the children fold clothes, Mom reads to them – multi-tasking!

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